228 & POLEVOI thing strange was happening to the major. This man, no longer young, who only recently had amused and out- raged the hospital ward with his jesting cynicism and scorn for the fair sex, had fallen in love, head over heels in love like a schoolboy, and, it seemed, hopelessly. Several times a day he would go to the reception-room to telephone Klavdia Mikhailovna in Moscow. With every departing patient he sent her flowers, fruit, chocolate and written messages. He wrote her long letters and was happy and joked when he was handed a familiar enve- lope. But she rejected his advances, gave him no encourage- ment, was not even sorry for him. She wrote that she loved, and mourned, another, and in friendly terms advised the major to give her up, to forget her, not to go to expense on her account, or waste time on her. It was this friendly but matter-of-fact tone, so offensive in love affairs, that upset the major so. Alexei already lay stretched out under the blanket, remaining diplomatically quiet, when the major darted away from the window to Alexei's bed, shook him by the shoulder and, bending over him, shouted: "What does she want? What am I, tell me? Chaff in the field? Am I ugly, old, a leper? Anybody else in her place ... but what's the use of talking!" He flung himself into an armchair, grasped his head with his hands and rocked to and fro so vigorously that the armchair groaned. "She's a woman, isn't she? She ought to be at least curious about me! The she-devil. I love her. If you only knew. You knew him, that other one.... Tell me, in what way was he better than me? What did he get her with? Was he cleverer? Better-looking? What sort of a hero was he?" Alexei recalled Commissar Vorobyov, his big, bloated body, the waxen face against the pillow, the woman standing like a statue over him in the eternal posture of feminine grief, and that amazing story about the Red Army men marching through the desert. "He was a real man, Major, a Bolshevik. God grant that we become like him."